Lying to my iPhone: Driving with “Do Not Disturb While Driving”

I have a confession to make: I’ve been lying to my iPhone.

I never thought I would be in situation, or that one could even exist. To be clear, I’m not spreading lies via my phone, I’m lying to the actual device itself.

What am I talking about? iOS 11’s new Do Not Disturb While Driving mode.

The setting turns on when you get into your car, triggered either by your movement or when it connects to your car’s Bluetooth. When I get an iMessage, it sends an automated response that I’ll get back when I reach my destination. If it’s important, they can reply “urgent” and the message will come through.

So how do I lie? When I’m stopped at a light or stuck in traffic and try to do something on my phone, the screen prompts me to confirm “I’m Not Driving.”

Yes, I know it can probably wait, and it’s likely not safe to use my phone even while I’m not moving. But I do it anyways out of years of habit and maybe an unhealthy urge to scratch the itch of “what’s happening right now?”

The setting is actually very amazing and has my favorite part of testing the iOS update. After installing the first Public Beta while on a road trip this summer to see some King Crimson concerts, it immediately changed how I drive.

It had a strange calming effect: no more was I interrupted by the countless notifications from my phone. I wasn’t wondering what the vibration was or if I was missing something vital. I knew that if the message was important, it was on who sent the message to push it through.

Over the summer, nothing was marked “urgent.” Mostly, friends ask me what app I’m using because they want to have it as well. I’m interested to see how many people adopt this with iOS 11’s release today. I hope the setting will save lives and prevent crashes.

It also made me realize how often I’ve used my phone while driving, even though I thought I was pretty good at keeping it down. But I would want to snap a picture of the sunrise, change music or enter am address for GPS directions. I’ve found having an Apple Watch helps, but there are things I’m still grabbing the phone for.

So I’ve lied dozens of times this summer to my phone, but have most likely even distracted hundreds of times less. It’s going to take time to break this habit, but Do Not Disturb While Driving is a great reminder to keep the phone down as it is blocking notifications.

I’m sorry, Siri, let’s leave those beta days of lies behind and move on to something official.

An open letter from a nervous baseball fan the week before the trade deadline

To whom it may concern,

We’re days away from the trade deadline and my favorite baseball team the Detroit Tigers are likely to be selling.

Now you may not be a baseball fan, so I’d like to explain why I might suddenly erupt in fits of rage and sadness over the next few days.

Baseball is a sport unlike any other. We watch these players for 162 games a year. That’s about double the amount of regular season games that the NBA and NHL play and more than 10 times that of the NFL.

We spend a lot of time with these players. They become, for some of us, members of our family. No other sport allows fans to get to know the players like we do in baseball. We watch them grow up in the minors. We see them get better game after game. We see slow declines. We see how some players gel with some teams and not others. We hear their walk up music. Sometimes games go long or are boring, so we make up nicknames and stories about them.

So when players get traded, it can be shocking. Even when we know its coming and that is’s probably for the best of the team, it still hurts. We won’t see them in that uniform again. It may be part of a long term strategy and we know that, but it will take time.

So my friend, co-worker, neighbor, stranger on the street, if sometime this week I jump out of my chair screaming, sobbing, or a mixture of both, this is why. I’ll be ok, but just need to let it out. I’ll try and wear Tigers gear as a potential warning. Hopefully I won’t need to act this way… or hopefully I do. Hard to tell what Al is up to…


King Crimson ruins everything

King Crimson ruins everything.

I saw them twice this summer on tour, in Chicago and Minneapolis. The two shows blew my mind. The “eight-headed beast” – with three drummers up front – played the loudest, and most quiet show I’ve ever seen.

Songs that I had heard thousands of times sounded new again, both at the State Theatre and two nights later at the Chicago Theatre. Listening to Crimson’s live albums have since had the same effect: Familiar but radically different, known but also unknown.

The following week I was at a Talking Heads cover band’s concert. I had wanted to see them several times but had missed the shows. The Talking Heads have been a favorite band for years and I wanted to see their songs performed live, have a few beers and dance.

It became clear within the first song that this would not work. Instead of taking the songs and breathing new life into them, the musicians played to the records we were all familiar with.

I felt a strong pull to leave. Why stay and hear music trying to be something from 30 years ago? I didn’t want to have fun and take a walk down memory lane, I wanted to be challenged. Who cares how much they sounded like the band, I wanted to hear something in 2017.

Another example happened today: tickets became available for our local symphony performing the music of Star Wars: A New Hope while the movie played. I had been excited about this previously, but with the $80 ticket price on my computer screen, I asked: what will I actually be seeing? Will it be something new and a progression of the John Williams score? Or will they play it like we’ve heard it countless times on TV? I’m sure it will be interesting and it’s premature to cast a review, but I have strong doubts. I’d rather buy a ticket to a concert that has musicians who are not playing to a prerecorded movie but rather performing for the music. As a huge Star Wars fan, it feels odd to think about passing up this performance, but I’m sure people will want to hear Star Wars just like they have in the past.

King Crimson ruins everything, and that’s OK. I now thirst for music that is played for that moment we are in, not for a conceived ideas about what it should be.

My Twin Peaks Season 3 predictions

So I’m not one for publishing my theories, but it’s so extraordinary that new Twin Peaks will air tonight I thought I’d share some of my thoughts for posterity. I haven’t read or listened to any theory or predictions. They are a little ridiculous are are informed just by my imagination, but hey, anything could happen in a Lynch program.

Here we go:

  • The first we see of Cooper, errrr Cooper’s doppelgänger, will be when he is released from prison for killing Annie.
  • Good Cooper is in the Red room for the past 25 years and escapes.
  • Or, some major battle will have happened in the past 25 years that we only hear about.
  • If Annie is alive, Laura Dern could be playing her.
  • Michael Cera is the son of Andy and Lucy.
  • Andy is the new Sheriff in town.
  • Donna died of natural causes or a tragedy like a car crash.
  • Ed and Norma are not back together.
  • Jim Belushi plays a cop.
  • Bobby is doing something good for society and is married to Shelly
  • Something happened to Harry S. Truman, like Donna, natural causes or a common tragedy.
  • Ben Horne ran unsuccessfully for Senate and is still on his quest for good in the world.
  • James has a million of stories to tell us.

We’ll see in seven hours! Can’t wait!

The Mystery of iCloud Photo Library storage

This is a curious case of photography, small iPads and the mysterious puzzle of Apple’s optimized storage.
The other month, I found an amazing deal on an iPad Mini 2 — $125 for a 32gb model — more than 60 percent off the retail price. I’ve been wanting a new iPad for a while — my iPad 3 is long past its retirement date. But I’ve been waiting for one of the new iPad Pros to be released later this year so I waited. But this deal was too good to pass up.

If I was buying the Pro, I would max out the storage. But this was a short-term solution I couldn’t pass up.

As a photographer, I have a lot of pictures on my iCloud Photo Library — about 695gb. Setting up my iPad, I was excited to have all my photos available, even in the cloud. I turned it on and waited for the photos to appear.

The problem

A couple days later, I received a notification that my iPad was almost out of storage. Strange. I Iooked at the settings and saw that the library was taking up 25gb. I checked to make sure the optimize storage setting was on. It was.

Maybe it needs some more space to finish syncing, I thought, and deleted some of the larger apps.

Next day, the iCloud library took up 28gb, leaving the iPad with just 400mb of free storage.

Shouldn’t the optimized storage deal with this? I wondered. Have some images cached, but not take up more than a third or even half of my storage. This was true with my 128gb iPhone 6.

Looking at Apple forums didn’t provide any clarity. The best I could surmise is that some photos and thumbnails of the others were downloaded. But what made up that 28gb was unknown. This wouldn’t work.

The solution

Running on low storage is never fun. What I’ve ended doing is setting up my iPad again, fresh.

I will have access to my phone 99.99 percent of the time I’m using my iPad. If I need access to a certain photo, I’ll look it up and AirDrop it to myself or share it to a private shared photo album. I’ve also turned on, for the first time since the Photos update, Photostream.

It’s not the ideal solution, but it gives me an iPad I can work with. I’d rather do this little workaround then having to deal with the annoyances of trying to free up space, which seems to be a losing battle.

I’m still left wondering: What’s in those gigabites stored on my iPad? Could thumbnails and metadata take up that much space? Hopefully, when I get an iPad Pro with maxed out storage, I won’t have to worry about it.

If it does, I don’t know what I’m going to do, delete photos? Yeah right.

That time PJ Fleck blocked me on Twitter

With news that Western Michigan University Head Football Coach PJ Fleck is leaving the Broncos for a bigger school that will not be named, I was reminded of this odd story of when he blocked me on Twitter. I have a lot of respect for Fleck. This story is too good to not share.

It was February, 2015 and Western Michigan’s men’s basketball team had just won the MAC championship, meaning they secured a spot in the NCAA March Madness tournament. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, excitedly favoriting and retweeting posts, when I saw one from PJ Fleck.

Huh I thought I haven’t seen a tweet from PJ in a long time.

I clicked on the profile and this popped up:


I was shocked.

Blocked by Coach Fleck? What did I do?

I had no idea. I was critical of Fleck during his first season at WMU. He came in and changed our traditions: cut down on the marching band and replaced their songs with a DJ, played the Chicago Blackhawks song whenever they scored a touchdown (we’re Red Wings country here) and more. Oh yeah, they also had a 1-11 season.

Uh oh, what did I tweet?

So I searched through the archives and all I could find was this:

He blocked me over something so small as saying I was having a hard time rowing the boat? They were 1-11…

Fast forward to the December. An article from Sports Illustrated on Fleck detailed a day-in-his-life and the drink he ordered every morning, called “the coach.”

sugar-free Red Bull with ice, five strawberries, a banana and whipped cream — double-blended.

My friend Kyle and I joked about getting one for months. Since it was around the holidays, and I had a bunch of gift cards and there wasn’t a lot of work to do, we were going to order some. Since we worked downtown Lansing, the state capitol and home of the coffee chain, we had multiple choices. We first went to the “Senate Biggby,” explained the order to much confusion. But it didn’t matter: they were out of bananas. We went a couple blocks away to the “House Biggby” explained the order again. They had bananas but no clue about the drink, which was a little surprising since they have so many odd drinks that don’t really look much like coffee at all.

We got the drink, it was something like $12 or $14 for both of them. As we were leaving, we took selfies and tweeted them. The drink wasn’t that bad.

It was then retweeted by a friend who works at Biggby, and then retweeted by Fleck himself. He probably didn’t see my original tweet because he blocked me. I was upset.

He can’t be retweeting my content to boost his brand if he blocked me!

My friends came to the rescue and started an #unblockfritzklug campaign (did I mention it was a slow time around the holidays?)

Within minutes I got a follow notification from Fleck. I was unblocked.

I’ve come to like Fleck a lot and will miss him. Like any fan, I am a little hurt but I think it’s best for his career. This reminded me of this bizarre moment in the beginning of a young coach’s carrer.

But now I really wonder… What I said was something a preschooler would say, how many other people did he block?